The top crime stories of 2011 include a surprising jury verdict, some unsolved cases and some final justice in some cases from years ago. This year's cases include an acquittal for a Florida mom accused of killing her 2-year-old, justice in an infamous kidnapping, the capture of a long-time Most Wanted fugitive, convictions in more than one home invasion murder case and the execution of convicted cop killer 22 years after the crime.
The not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial can as a shock to many people, except perhaps those who watched it daily on television. The prosecution simply did not prove that Caylee Maria Anthony had been murdered, but less than her mother killed her. Casey was found guilty only of lying to investigators.
Michael Jackson's personal physician, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving the pop music superstar the powerful anesthetic propofol to help him sleep. But he did not use the proper precautions to protect Jackson from harm, the jury decided.
After years of delays due to the defendant being declared incompetent in state courts, federal prosecutors finally brought Brian David Mitchell to justice for the 2002 kidnapping of 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in Salt Lake City. Mitchell's ex-wife, Wanda Barzee, pleaded guilty to state charges in 2010 when she was declared competent to stand trial after being forcibly medicated.
Despite a massive legal and public relations campaign to stop his execution, Georgia death row inmate Troy Davis was executed 22 years after being convicted for the shooting of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. Davis was executed after winning a rare ruling from the Supreme Court to have his claim of innocent heard by a federal judge.
For more than 16 years, Boston crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger avoided capture despite being on the FBI's Most Wanted list. In the end, it was the FBI's push to locate his long-time girlfriend, Catherine Greig, that led to the accused killer's apprehension in Santa Monica, California.
Both men who invaded a doctor's home in Cheshire, Connecticut and killed his wife and two daughters were sentenced to death. Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky were tried separately and both were convicted of all counts and given the death penalty for the murders of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11.
A drifter convicted of the murder of a Georgia woman and suspected in the deaths of an elderly couple in North Carolina, finally saw his criminal career come to a close with a death sentence in Florida. Gary Michael Hilton was convicted of killing, kidnapping and robbing Sunday School teacher Cheryl Dunlap.
Neighbors blamed the stench coming from Anthony Sowell's house on the sausage-packing company next door, but it was really from the decomposing bodies of the 11 women he killed and kept inside and around his home. It didn't take the jury long to recommend the death penalty.
Ten years after Washington D.C. intern Chandra Levy was killed while jogging in a park, an El Salvadoran immigrant was finally brought to trial in the case. Ingmar Guandique was sentenced to 60 years and insisted that he had nothing to do with Levy's murder in spite of being convicted of attacking two other women in the same park.
North Carolina residents are still trying to figure out how the stepmother of a cancer-stricken 10-year-old girl with one leg, who was killed and apparently dismembered in a wood chipper, could get such a sweet plea deal. Elisa Baker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 14 to 18 years for the death of Zahra Baker.